Ten Percent of Email Will be Cloud-based by 2014

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Enterprises will be well on their way to adopting cloud-based email and collaboration services (CECS) by the end of 2014, but that date has been pushed back slightly from the end of 2012, according to a new report.

Just over two years from now, CECS will have passed the "tipping point" of broad scale adoption within enterprises at 10 percent saturation, the report from analyst firm Gartner released Monday said.

While the cloud-based email and software-as-a-service email model is destined to become dominant, however, it will take until 2020 to reach 55 percent market share.

"Ultimately, we expect CECS to become the dominant provisioning model for the next generation of communication and collaboration technologies used in enterprises," Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow, said in the report. "However, it is not dominant today, it will not be the only model, and it will take a decade or more for the transition to play out."

Therefore, Gartner estimates that most enterprises will not begin to move to CECS until 2014.

There are three primary reasons why the move is going slower than originally expected.

The first is what Gartner refers to "asset inertia," whereby enterprise customers try to extract the most value out of existing assets before spending on new technologies. The second is the tendency for enterprises to focus spending on strategic activities that more readily show up on the businesses' bottom line than infrastructure investments.

Third, the practical realities of the vendors' CECS offerings, when examined up close, are sometimes less compelling than the glossy stories they tell, the report said.

"There are several reasons why enterprises might not want to be ahead of the curve on CECS, not least the perception that early adopters pay a premium in terms of acquisition cost, and that, by waiting, the organization can avoid paying an 'early adopter premium,'" Austin added.

Still, the report said, if CECS otherwise makes sense for an enterprise, it would be far better off proceeding now.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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